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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern 24, Western Illinois 7

It really should've been even closer.

Jonathan Daniel

- Northwestern got its first win of the season, but it might've actually been the Wildcats' worst performance of the three. The offense in particular was pitiful.

- If you had the courage to watch that whole game, we salute you. It was a pretty excruciating 3-plus hours.

- When an FCS team takes the field against a power conference school, the common thought is that the underdog needs to make big plays and win the turnover battle to have a chance. But at Ryan Field today, it was Northwestern, the favorite, who needed those kind of plays just to stay in the game. WIU out-gained the Wildcats 243-147. That's appalling. And the second half wasn't much better. Total yards finished 376-283 in favor of the Leathernecks.

- Ibraheim Campbell and Cameron Dickerson both left the game with injuries. They were announced as questionable to return, but neither came back in the game. Both Collin Ellis and Deonte Gibson also had to receive attention late in the game, though there is no word yet on any injury for either of them.

- There were a couple positives, about which we will write at length. The running backs, particularly Justin Jackson, looked really impressive behind a fairly sturdy offensive line, and NU's special teams had a great game across the board. The Wildcats blocked a punt and a field goal, Chris Gradone punted very well, including a 46-yarder that bounced out of bounds at the 1-yard line, and the coverage on punts and kickoffs was encouraging.

- Ifeadi Odenigbo is going to feature in WIU quarterback Trenton Norvell's nightmares tonight. He forced three fumbles today, and seemed to be in the backfield almost every time he was in the game. We know he's still raw, but surely Pat Fitzgerald and defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz need to find him more playing time.

- Trevor Siemian, quite frankly, played one of his worst games as a Northwestern Wildcat. After practice on Wednesday, he told me that he thought his decision making and reads had been pretty good so far this season, but today, he was far too content with being "check down Trevor," and seemed to lock onto one receiver -- the wrong one -- too often. That meant a lot of open receivers left wondering why the ball hadn't been thrown their way, and a lot of inexcusable dump offs on third downs that were short of the line to gain.

- Northwestern was 3 for 14 on third down. Western Illinois had 22 first downs. Northwestern had 15.

- Everything Siemian does is slow. At times, it looks methodical and calculated. But today, everything he did looked hesitant and timid.

- This is Northwestern's offense in one vine:

- According to our Jason Dorow, Northwestern had just three passes that were completed for 10 yards or more today. That's on both Siemian, who missed open receivers, and the receivers, who just aren't getting much separation.

- The announced attendance today was 32,016. Considering the 0-2 start, the impending rain, and the FCS opponent, that's pretty good.